Firefighters battled a three-alarm apartment fire in Blue Springs that destroyed more than 24 apartments and left more than 20 families without homes.
The fire broke out just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Autumn Place Apartments located at 1300 NW Candletree Dr., near Interstate 70 and Woods Chapel Road.
It didn't take long for the flames to spread. Neighbors saw the plumes of smoke and quickly ran outside. Many of those residents watched in horror as firefighters fought to knock down the flames.
Up to 40 Blue Springs firefighters were on the scene. Firefighters from Lee's Summit and Independence also helped battle the blaze. The intense heat prompted officials to bring more crews to the scene.
The smoke was so close to Brooke Johnson's home, she thought it was her building on fire. She was relieved when she found out it wasn't until she realized she knew someone who was inside.
"That thing in your mind, what are you going to grab if you need to leave. I didn't grab anything. I grabbed my kids. We didn't even have shoes on, we just ran out," Johnson said.
Johnson said one of her neighbors, who moved in last weekend, lost everything he had but thankfully made it out safely.
All of the residents were able to safely escape the burning complex thanks to a system the apartment complex had in place.
"These apartments are alarmed, so the alarm system probably alerted everybody like it was supposed to," Assistant Fire Chief Eddie Saffell said.
As the fire continued to burn, Red Cross workers arrived and began assisting the newly homeless residents.
"Caseworkers are starting to do preliminary interviews with those who lived in the building, just getting some basic information," JoAnn Woody, an emergency service manager with the Red Cross, said.
Authorities do not know yet what started the fire.
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